Category Archives: Exhibits

The Scrap Bag Challenge

April is always a busy month for me. It’s pretty much the last month of the school year–so that means advising for the fall, senior art show, getting ready for graduation, etc. etc. I also have the following:

  • Three major print projects to complete right now–two of which are due by April 30th.
  • A very sick cat that I am trying to keep alive
  • Fulbright Application
  • Planning/finalizing the PRESS schedule of exhibits for the summer

So what do I do? I volunteer to partake in Crispina’s Scrap Box Challenge. Seriously. I am nuts. What is a Scrap Box Challenge? Here’s what Crispina said in her invite:

Here's my box of scraps from Crispina's Studio

Here’s my box of scraps from Crispina’s Studio

Let me inspire you to marvelousness.

I’ll send you a bag of fabric scrap from the studio.
You turn that bag of scrap into something marvelous! You can use any technique you’d like. Take pictures and post your progress here on Facebook.
Send images of your finished work to me by April 15 and be featured in my first ever virtual Earthday Art/Craft Show at www.crispina.com

 

My initial goal was to make one thing from all of my scraps–preferably something functional. When I unpacked them I realized that was not going to happen. I have random sweater scraps as well as some brown wool strips from an old shirt. I fused and sewed the brown strips back together to make this fab skirt.

Scrap Parallel14 Scrap Parallel15 Scrap Parallel17

 

 

 

 

And now I have all of these scraps remaining.Scrap Parallel18 I’ve gotta do something with them by April 15th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know I want to make little bird sculptures. I’ve been wanting to do that for ages. And I’m also going to make some pillow covers or “quilt drawings/collages”, I think, thanks to inspiration from artist Karen Anne Glick. Karen lives in Carlisle, PA. I am discovering her because she is also part of the Scrap Bag Challenge. I wish she lived closer. She seems to be doing some similar things with her art practice as I do. I would love to chat with her. Check out her quilted drawings. She worked to make one of these a day in 2012 and then wrote something to go along with them. Sounds a lot like my mantra cards, right? She’s my new favorite artist.

Anyways. Follow the Scrap Bag Challenge on Facebook to see what others are doing.  And maybe I’ll post a few more creations later in the week.

 

Exeter, NH

I am in Exeter, New Hampshire for the opening of On and Off the Page.

I arrived yesterday and by-passed small talk and other conversation to check on my calendars and to begin getting the entries from my little book into the calendar. As per usual, I have completely underestimated the amount of time it will take me to update. I completed 10 days yesterday in about 35 minutes. I have like 20 more to go! And I will be doing that today, in the gallery, so if you are in Exeter, maybe you’ll get lucky to see me in action.

me_exeter_calendar_update

I’m anticipating meeting with students today, and am very interested to hear what they will ask me. I know one question is how do I decide what to put in the calendar. I’m confronting that right now, because the book I am using is much larger than the little rectangles on the year-format. Things I consider–self-censorship, is there a bigger picture I want to paint, will something mean more in the future than right this second. Sometimes I think to hard about it, and realize how much time has passed and I do whatever comes to my head first.

omg_what are they reading?

What are they looking at? I can’t wait to find out what draws people into these diaries.

Here are a couple pics of the install. I will post more later today or tomorrow. Click for a bigger image.

 

On and Off the Page begins at Exeter Academy

Tomorrow, September 9th, On and Off the Page begins at Lamont Gallery at Phillips Exeter Academy. ALL of my calendars, THE calendars, including this current year, will be on display.

That’s NINETEEN.

Yes, I have managed to pretty much maintain this daily documentation of my life for nineteen years. It’s hard to describe my feelings when I left them on August 16th. Don’t know this part of my artistic practice? Go HERE.

  • Nervousness: were they going to be okay without me.
  • Trust: were they going to be okay without me.
  • Fear: were they going to be okay without me.

Really, was I/am I okay without them. (Can you imagine how I would be if I had children? Seriously, these are only pieces of paper, right?) While they are away, I am continuing the practice of creating an entry for the previous day in the morning while I drink my coffee. I am using a Moleskin sketchbook and when I go to Exeter for the opening on September 20th, I will arrive the day before so I can enter the past days into the calendar. If you are in the Exeter area the morning of the 20th, come to the gallery to see me update the actual calendar.

From now until the end of the exhibit, I’ll be posting the daily calendar entry to this blog. If you go to the exhibit, there will be a QR code for you to scan to bring you to this blog.

Here are the past 23 days:

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In the 23 days since I left them, I have thought of something I wanted to check nearly everyday, for example, what year did I ___________? What was that time of that walk? What weekend were we in New York? That being said, I’m excited to share all of them. And the installation of them might surprise us all. Rumor has it they are going to be hung in the middle of the gallery so you the visitor can walk through them like you are walking through time. I can’t wait to see them.

The opening is Friday, September 20th from 6:30-8 pm. If you find yourself in the Boston/Portsmouth area do come or come Saturday, September 21st for the artist talks at 10 am.

I am honored to be in an exhibit with such incredible artists. They are:

Peter Beaman and Elizabeth Whitely will exhibit Deck of Cards, a collection of 52 cards that visually and texturally describe a spring day in Pittsburgh. (I love this deck and remember seeing it at a Pyramid Atlantic event while in grad school or somewhere along the way and have fantasized about making something like it ever since.

Lesley Dill. I’ve made pilgrimages to see Lesley Dill’s work, gone to conferences because she was the keynote speaker, and look to her as a role-model for artistic practice and being in the world.

Liz Maugans who is Zygotes Press co-founder of an amazing printshop in Cleveland–where I am from originally. I CANNOT wait to meet her. OMG.

Juan Manuel Echavarría, an artist whose work I am learning, and look forward to seeing in person. I am particularly interested in La “O” and Requiem NN. On his website, Requiem NN is displayed as a massive grid–the kind of overall installation that draws me across galleries to examine.

I know my friend Leslie Ferrin would love Maureen Mills ceramic work. Her integration of text onto the three-dimensional form will be a sight to see!

Lisa Occhipinti creates sculptures out of books that mix color, form and texture, but she also makes book portraits by playing with pages, heads and tails of books, foredges in ways that create identities. Like so many book object works, best seeing in person–yet she captures the essence in her photographs, a definite feat!

Nicola Vruwink will not be at the opening, but her work transports me back to my youth and making mixed tapes for friends and family. She uses that tape to construct phrases and text through knitted and crocheted forms.

What a line-up. You know you want to see this show. I don’t know how I am going to make it until September 19th when I get to see it. Maybe I’ll see you there.

 

 

Ruth Laxson. Biking. Rilke.

I just returned from 10 glorious days south of the Mason-Dixon Line in sunny Georgia. Doug and I drove the 1000+ miles with our bicycles through snowstorms for a week of incredible mountain biking at Mulberry Gap in the Georgia Mountain Bike Capital Ellijay. But before we took to our bikes, we spent a weekend with my brother and his family in Atlanta. What fun to see him and his two boys.

Country mouse in the big city, I had to make time to check out two amazing art exhibitions. Ruth Laxson–one of my favorite contemporary artists– at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), and Frida and Diego at the High. I knew about the Laxson exhibit, Hip Young Owl, and learned about Frida and Diego from the billboards lining the highway as we drove into the city.

And not only was it a glorious day of art, when we arrived at MOCA, Ruth Laxson was leaving, so I got to meet and talk with her a bit before viewing the exhibit.

Meeting Ruth Laxson

Meeting Ruth Laxson

Laxson is a well-known book artist and printmaker in certain circles. I discovered her work in grad school. She came into her own in her 60′s. She’s now 89 and shows no sign of stopping!

Pasted into one of Laxson's sketchbooks.

Pasted into one of Laxson’s sketchbooks.

Text, texture, image, thread, mail, dots, paper and commentary on the human condition define her work. Her newest series, drawings entitled God Doll’s, drew me into her visual language. Her use of repetition, automatic writing as texture yet also an important part of her composition–a framing device, a ground, a form–the figure, not as we know it, but as it forms from the shapes, textures and marks she creates. There’s a freeness and openness to these figures that brings me to her world. When looking at her work, those who know my work understand immediately why I love this artist’s creations.

What I did not know was the role of mail art in Laxson’s career. In the 1980s she participated in numerous mail art exchanges and did so for many years. She even has a series of mail art post boxes that were included in the exhibit. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll be like her when I’m 89. I got my press at 41, she got hers at 63. So maybe there’s hope for me!

Here are some of my favorite images from the exhibit:

After a couple of hours of soaking in all that is Hip, we headed over to the High to see the Frida and Diego exhibit. Many of the paintings on view were ones that I had never seen. It focused a bit more on Diego than Frida, including many of his earliest paintings, paintings when he hadn’t found his own visual language and was still copying that of Picasso, Cezanne and other artists at the start of the 20th century. Many of the pieces in the exhibit were not only new to me but also zeroed in on Frida and Diego’s tumultuous relationship. In spite of their many ups and downs, she made this wonderful little piece for him in honor of their 15th wedding anniversary. It was one of my favorite images in the entire exhibit.

Frida's gift to Diego in honor of their 15th wedding anniversary.

Frida’s gift to Diego in honor of their 15th wedding anniversary.

Of course Doug and I had to take part in the camp that often surround Frida and Diego.

IMG_1347

But regardless, this day of art, then time with my little brother and his family, followed by an incredible week of mountain biking keeps me thinking about this Rilke writing from March 14th in A Year with Rilke.

Praise the World
Praise the world to the angel: leave the unsayable aside. 
Your exalted feeling do not move him.
In the universe he inhabits you are a novice. 
Therefore show him what is ordinary, what has been
shaped from generation to generation, shaped by hand and eye.
Tell him of things. He will stand still in astonishment,
the you stood by the ropemaker in Rome
or beside the potter on the Nile. 
Show him how happy a thing can be, ho innocent and ours, 
how even a lament takes pure form,
serves as a thing, dies as a thing,
wile a violin, blessing it, fades.
 
And the things, even as they pass,
understand that we praise them.
Transient, they are trusting us
to save them–us, the most transient of all.
As if they wanted in our invisible hearts
to be transformed
into—oh, endlessly—into us. 
                                   From the Ninth Duino Elegy

Eye-candy exhibits that I want to see this year

But alas, it will be impossible to see some of them, due to their location and timing.

Still, at least I can vicariously see some of them through catalogs and websites. And I can’t wait.

Ruth Laxson’s Hip Young Owl

Ruth Laxson, Hip Young Owl, Museum of Contemporary Art, Atlanta (I just saw this over the weekend. More about it in a future post!)
 
Life’s Work, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA
 
Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui at the Brooklyn Museum, Closing August 4
 
James Turrell at the Guggenheim, New York, June 21-September 25
 
Balthus: Cats and Girls at the Met, New York, September 2013-January 2014
 
Janet Cardiff: The Forty Part Motet, Cloisters, New York, September 10-December 8 (The link here takes you to a review of the installation documentation on the artist’s website.)
 
Paul Klee at the Tate Modern, London, October 15, 2013- March 9, 2014
 

Woodshed 2013

100 Hours in the Woodshed is a biannual event hosted by Danny O at MCLA’s Gallery 51. This is my third year as a participant. It begins with an opening reception/meet the artists from 5-7 pm on Thursday night, followed by three hours of art-making. We all leave around 10 pm and return on Friday and Saturday at 10 am working until 10 pm. Sunday we come back for eight more hours, again beginning at 10 am and this day working until 6 pm. At that point we strike the set, break down the tables, pile up the art and wait.

Monday, Ryder Cooley, G51′s new gallery manager and Susan Cross, MASS MoCA curator come onto the scene to curate the exhibit, and then it gets installed. Tuesday, like in two days Tuesday, the show opens to the public, from 5-7 pm. Hope to see you there!!

Please come. Please come to see the book I made. And the other stuff too, but I love this little book. I love everything I made. I haven’t been this excited by work I’ve made in ages. The book uses a structure that Alisa Golden is trying to get everyone who makes it call it the Australian Piano Hinge instead of Flat-Style Australian Reverse Piano Hinge binding. I agree with her. I saw the instructions for this on her blog and have been wanting to make it, and this weekend allowed me that opportunity.

Back of the book QUEST

Back of the book QUEST

Quest pages 1-2

Quest pages 1-2

QUEST pages 3-4

QUEST pages 3-4

QUEST pages 5-6

QUEST pages 5-6

QUEST pages 7-8

QUEST pages 7-8

Two important things happened for me this weekend.

1. It was confirmed to me, something that I already know and have read in countless books on creativity, that inspiration doesn’t just happen. Sure there are those moments of insight, but regular, focused work breeds inspiration. By the time I reached 29 hours into the event, two big huge connections happened. One–that one of the things I am doing in the collages that I really like is pairing the flat with the dimensional. This opened up a huge flood of visual connections and the opportunity to create more mindfully. Two, that the way to bring the God thing that I sort of haphazardly stab at here and there is by going back to the pages and pages of notes and writing that I did while earning my Master’s in Religion at Yale–and picking out text from that writing instead of the more cliche attempts that I’ve been making lately.

2. I am ready to move forward from events of two years ago. (If you know, you know. If you don’t–well, just know that I was very sad two years ago, and that sadness is really, finally and completely lifting. Don’t ask me about it.) While the raven will still be seen from time to time, there is a lightness emerging in my color and image choice that I haven’t seen in years. I even am consciously choosing to work with yellow. Unheard of for me. (Not that you will see it in this imagery, just trust me.)

Here’s the other work I made. I’m thinking it would be very much fun to cancel classes tomorrow, stay home and continue working, but I know I won’t be able to give into that urge. But maybe another day this week…

The work ist better in person–the light wasn’t so great today for these pics. I’ll do my best to update with clearer ones, so come on Tuesday so you get the best view!

Go

Go

Follow

Follow

I shall be released

I shall be released

Six collages, the top middle one is my favorite.

Six collages, the top middle one is my favorite.

 

Meditation begins with little dots

About a month ago Doug and I spent the weekend at Kripalu participating in a great retreat about meditation with Sharon Salzburg. I first discovered Sharon Salzburg and her book Lovingkindness nearly ten years ago when I was trying to figure out if I should stay at Buxton teaching art or take the risk and go back to grad school to earn my MFA. (I took the risk!)

This retreat found us doing sitting and walking meditations, practicing metta and doing some slow, restorative yoga. I often beat myself up for how easily distracted I can be, but I took away two powerful things from this weekend.

1. The beauty of Metta, and practicing it regularly for myself, for my loved ones, for those who challenge me, for my perceived enemies, for all beings. I practice it for 15 minutes most days–five minutes for myself, five minutes for someone I will interact with later that day, and then five minutes for anyone who happens to come into my mind, friend or foe.

May you be free from danger.
May you have physical happiness.
May you have mental happiness.
May you have ease of well-being. 
 

2. That I actually can focus, and sometimes so well that I don’t hear people talking to me, I forget to eat and frustrate my loved ones because I am so focused. This usually happens when I am in my studio. And yes, I realized that in many ways this is meditating for me. I can often even feel my pulse slow, my mind zero in on the work and everything else drop away. When I teach, I have to be careful when I demo because I can drop into this state pretty quickly. This weekend, I reached this state quite a bit as I worked on my selection for Gallery 51′s upcoming 99cent and up show. Tree rubbings with little green dots and pathways. Bliss.

Here’s a preview:

I hope to see you there!

Branching Together

Branching Together opens tonight at Gallery 51 in North Adams!

Branching Together unites the work of Helen Hiebert, Sun Young Kang and Michelle Wilson, three artists who work with paper. Each artist is on a journey, a path, a way that branches together and outwards to others. Trees with their branches and roots, reach out to life and death, and invite the viewer to walk the path, the way between. They each engage the viewer, ultimately asking what are the paths that we walk, as child, mother, and citizen? Handmade paper, made from the earth, serves as the primary medium linking these works. But each artist transforms this everyday material into an artwork that invites the viewer to see their reflection and find moments of connection in their own life.

The centerpiece of the exhibit, Mother Tree, is a visual and emotional journey made tactile with natural fibers and was conceived by Helen Hiebert and serves as a symbol of the vulnerability, strength, and sense of community she feels as a mother.

Mother Tree by Helen Hiebert

Mother Tree was created with translucent abaca-based paper. Strands crocheted from cotton, linen, hemp and flax form the roots. Some of these strands are crocheted by Hiebert, many more are crocheted from others who read about her project online or experienced it at a gallery. Contributors include notes with their strands. The strands represent milk, and as Helen explains, “as the milk cascades to the floor, it turns into roots and these roots are multi-colored and multi-fibered, representing all of humanity and our diversity. The threads in Mother Tree symbolize the lifeline that connects all women to their past as well as to their future.”

Like Mother Tree, To Find the One Way, by Sun Young Kang, also begins with a personal experience, her response to the death of her father, and the inseparability of life and death that connects us all to our ancestors and our children. She too, explores these lifelines that connect us all to our past, as well as our future. To Find the One Way is inspired by the Buddhist idea of the number 108 and the renderings of the character  (Tao), which has various meanings, including “path” or “way.”  Kang extends the play with the number 108 by extending it to 1080 pieces of paper, all marked with the  (Tao) character.

To Find the One Way, Sun Young Kang

Kang used burning incense to make the negative space on each page, creating absence, which represents death or loss. When lit, the absence creates a shadow. This shadow has triple significance; it draws attention to the negative space, and the absence the space suggests, and it calls to mind memories of the one who is absent. Every character of emptiness on the paper creates 1080 different ways or paths. Each of the paths connects absence and presence, the past and the now, the loss and the memories, and death and life, lifelines of dualities between which we all journey.

Michelle Wilson, also uses absence in The Ghost Trees. Wilson aims to find the intersections in one’s lifeline where thought takes action, where one decides along the way to make a stand. In her case, the stand represents her love of nature, and the ecological links that paper inherently represents. Through the use of watermarks, this installation creates a “haunting” in the paper itself, evoking the immense deforestation that occurs every year to keep up with the demand for paper.

Ghost Trees, by Michelle Wilson

The lines, paths and ways created by fiber, paper and shadow that each of these artists create branch together as they journey from birth, through life and into death. Where are the places inside of each of us that mother, that mourn, that take a stand? How do they branch together in you? How do they branch together in me? How do they branch toward each other, bringing us together as we journey in this great community of earth? I ask you this as the curator, to think about this as you experience this exhibit, what is your path? How is it part of this greater communal journey of birth, life and death?

Be sure to join me on March 22nd for a crochet/knit night at Gallery 51. Come crochet/knit a root for Mother Tree.